You go, gogo! We love you. We love your vibe. We love your handbag. And we love that airbag. And we don’t love – how do da Americans say? – that “douchebag” who hooted at you. That was simply too beautiful for words!
As I’ve admitted before, I don’t know much about art but I know what I like. And I like it meaningful and not necessarily so pretentious that it disappears up the artist’s ass.
I’ve applied this criteria ever since Diane Gilson, the pig-tailed spotty-face who sat next to me in Class 2, drew a spurious picture of me during a particularly boring Arithmetic class. I applied it so assertively that I landed up standing outside the classroom door, not an uncommon position for me to take up. As I recall, I was on first-name terms with the pigeons nesting in the gutter outside 2B.
And I applied it even more furiously when a total nincompoop indulging in some performance art (by a long way not my fave artistic genre) at the notoriously left-field Bean Bag Bohemia in Durban snatched a smoke out of my hand while clearly experiencing an extremely avant-retard moment. I won’t tell you how that ended. Horribly. For him.
So let’s have a look at some art. I think they (the in-the-know “they”) call this conceptual art. I think you’ll like this…
Mmmm. I love it. Artistic expression with a functionality. To house birds. In London. Birds, as resourceful as they might be, have a pretty rough time of it in inner-city London so, on the face of it, this is eco-friendly art.
We should all be quite pleased with what’s been done here. But there’s a problem. Can you spot it? Have a close look. Feel free to use your binocs if you need to. Yes? Anybody detected the terrible oversight on the part of the smart-ass artists who dreamt up this little, er, lark?
OK. Have a closer look…
No? OK. The thing about birds, as grateful as they may be towards people who help them out with a spot in which to rest, nest and possibly even breed, is that they like a twig or something similar to perch on before they enter the nest. That helps them to locate any predators or other dodginesses before entering the nest. Or, perhaps, if it’s been a long flight home, to stop off for a crafty fag before facing the missus and the kids.
No perches. On those arty-farty nesting-boxes. And not much chance of them attracting any birds, unless they are DIY types like those hamerkops which might produce a nail from under a wing and make their own plan.
So, as the art critic I undoubtedly am, I must suggest that the London Fieldworks artists who produced this uber-pretentiously titled “Spontaneous City in the Tree of Heaven” artwork might want to nip out to The DIY Guy, buy up all stocks of dowel rod and start chopping up bits of perch for the nonplussed birds flying around their installations in parks in Chelsea and Islington.
* To be fair, and I really want to be, you could do a lot worse than flit over to the very interesting Inhabitat eco-arty website to see what other far more environmentally considerate art is being created.
* If you scroll up to your right on this page, you’ll see a big fat badge saying something about the 2010 South African Blog Awards. I’ve entered your “diagnosed SA-positive” blog into three categories: Best New Blog, Best Personal Blog and The Kulula Best Travel Blog. I wouldn’t be at all offended if you clicked on that there badge and nominated http://www.fredhatman.co.za in any of these categories (be sure to type in your e-mail address on the blog awards site for your nomination to be registered). In fact, were I to amaze all of us by winning something, the Birkenhead is on me down the Stanford Arms! Cheers!
Forgive me, dear and possibly forgiving Hatpeople, if I have a little rant today. I have just this morning received an e-mail which has precipitated this uncharacteristic behaviour. I mean, I remain totally committed to giving you all the “SA-positivity” you can bear, but I am human.
And I do have a name. It’s Fred. My name is Fred. It’s not There. So, if you know my name and you e-mail me or phone me, it’s “Hi, Fred”. If you don’t know my name, of have forgotten it, a simple “Hi, who am I talking to?” will do very nicely, thank you.
Do not address me with a “Hi, there”. It’s just rude. It’s like those nameless, faceless, brainless people who call to sell you something. You pick up the phone and say “Hi, Fred speaking”. To which they reply, “Hello, how are you”. To which I say, “My name is not Howareyou, my name is Fred. What is your name?”
Go right ahead and address this geezer with a "Hi, there"... but don't try it on me!
What happened to the common decency of “Hello, my name is Jane from the Tryingtoflogyousomething Marketing company, how do I address you, Sir?” or, if that sounds a bit too like it belongs to a more civilised age, then “Hello, to whom am I speaking, please?”
Is that asking too much? Is that asking too much of somebody whose sole purpose in calling you – or e-mailing you – is to try to manipulate you into buying or doing something that you are not necessarily predisposed towards buying or doing? No, I will not even want to hear about what it is you want me to buy or do if you call me “There” or “Howareyou”.
Do you feel the same about this? Or is it just me? Oh, you do. Then I wonder how many calls and e-mails are being wasted by countless companies which don’t bother to train their cold-callers to try to find out our names before they ask how we are? Because I now put the phone down on them. Every time. I might be missing out on free round-the-world cruises but I don’t care. No name, or no enquiry for a name, and it’s phone call over.
But, for me, it gets even worse. I have people to whom I have been introduced who, when I next see them, say “Hi, there”. OK, so nobody is more capable than me when it comes to forgetting names. I can be introduced to somebody and my pea-brain is so inundated with messages about what this person’s eyes are telling me, what their body language is saying and assessing whether the fact that their eyebrows meet in the middle means I should turn and run for it that, by the time I’ve looked at their shoes for confirmation and looked up again, I’ve forgotten their name.
I know. It’s poor form. I’m terrible like that. It is absolutely stunning how quickly Tamsin becomes Tarryn, Tamlyn becomes Tamsyn or, to be completely truthful, Tarryn somehow morphs into Hortensia. It’s abysmal. But, when I next speak to that person, I will apologise for the misfiring of my synapses and ask them to remind me of their name. No problemo.
But what I will not accept is my name being changed to “There”. It’s just not on. So there.
“South African from the waist down.” What’s that all about?
Two things. It’s about what takes root in your head when your name is Silver and you’ve got the fairly mundane job of keeping an eye on people’s cars while they go shopping for organic carrotcake.
And it’s about Silver’s cool little ditty getting picked up off the street by composer Alistair Davis and being shoved under the nose of Gabi le Roux at Kaleidosound recording studio. What happens next is a musical celebration by The Car Guards of a new post-World Cup confidence vibing its way through South Africans.
Have a little listen-see…
I’m liking that. A lot. It’s catchy. And EMI are running with it and it’s going big. And, unless I’m ridiculously delusional, there’s more than a drop of sexual innuendo in that baby, don’t you think? It’s the bit about “when he goes down, she goes down, they go down… when he goes down, it comes right up” that has me going there…
But, hey, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m just far too South African down south.
* A doff of the “SA-positive” red hat to Marian Zinn of Coza productions for sending me that stunning little vid.
I’m no politician. And I’m no lawyer. I’m a humble country blogger who simply wants the best for my country.
And any attempt by the South African government to constrain the media in their duty to inform us of what is happening doesn’t cut it for me. It stinks. It reeks of more bad smells than the ablution area used by a herd of elephants after a big night on a particularly virulent vindaloo curry. The Protection Of Information Bill wouldn’t smell any better if you had just emerged from a vrot fortnight spent down in the main sewer under the Johannesburg CBD.
A herd of elephants would be hard-pressed to push out an aroma as foul as the one around the Protection Of Information Bill. Even if they lived solely on a diet of Vivek's most volatile vindaloo. Pic: Daryl Balfour / www.darylbalfour.com
Whether you think that the South African media are doing a good job or not of reporting to us the facts of whether our country is being properly governed or not, a government that doesn’t hold itself properly accountable wanting to hold what should be an independent press accountable is just rotten.
And, in my book, unconstitutional. Take this bit of South Africa’s constitution, much-lauded as the “most democratic and progressive” prototype of its kind anywhere on the planet. “Everyone has the right of access to any information held by the state. And any information that is held by another person and that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights.”
Now any government which purports to govern by these principles has no business wanting to control in any way what our media tells us about what is going down in our country. It’s just not right. It speaks of a government operating from a place of fear. Why? Good question. The Protection Of Information Bill must be resisted with every ounce of strength that all right-thinking South Africans can muster.
I came across this commentary by Jonny Steinberg, author and member of the Institute for Humanities in Africa at the University of Cape Town in a Times Live column yesterday. As I said, I’m no politician. But the angle which Steinberg takes in his analysis is one which talks to me. Very loudly.
In fact, it’s screaming at me. It screams of lies, deception and much smoke and mirrors. The people who claim to be acting in the best interests of the people must know that the lies need to be stop. Or be stopped. And only a completely free and independent media fully committed to total transparency can do that.
Pardon me if your Afrikaans is not up to deciphering the above headline (mine isn’t) but there’s something about to happen in my home village that brings out the klein bietjieboereseun (little bit of farmer boy) in me.
Stand back Hatmense, I’m about to announce South Africa’s Barn Dance of the Year! Jami and Peter Kastner of Stanford Hills Estate make one of the country’s most stunning pinotages which goes under the name of Jackson’s Pinotage.
They also make a hell of a barn dance. This moerse opskop (one hell of a knees-up) is happening in the flower shed at their Weltevreden Farm on Saturday night. But you can pick up the details on the poster which is pinned up on almost every tree around town…
Yes, you're liking the look of this already, aren't you? Feet twitching?
Don’t fight it. Just relax into this whole phenomenal vibe, babies. You’ll want those feet warmed up so that you can hit the sawdust bouncing and ready to slide into some serious langarm or however it is you deploy to cut up the floor at a barn dance.
There are some tickets left but only because the Kastner’s flower shed was previously used to house 43 tractors, a Boeing, a few wheelbarrows and a medium sized aircraft-carrier. So there’s room for you if you’re late to clock on to this one.
Now, what the poster omits to tell you is that the legendary Baardskeerderbos Orkes will be strumming up a vibe second to none on the night. You do know what this means, don’t you? OK. This means that those exceedingly trendy boots that you’ve been mincing around in this winter will have the soles worn off them just in time for spring.
Die Baardskeerdersbos Orkes will ensure that you'll be too sore to hit the gym for a week Pic: Annalize Mouton
Because we’re not talking polite jiggery-pokery with more poke than jig at a Cape Town nightclub here, brothers and sisters. This barn dance speaks only the language of off-the-charts opskoppery not witnessed since that last really embarrassing dancefloor episode of yours at cousin Bernoldus’s birthday bash.
Yes. That’s the level we’re pitched at. Every move attempted, no prisoners taken. And, if the 120 ront spitbraai option is a tad too steep for your recession-ravaged piggybank, then I can reveal that R60 will get you in at the door with boerie rolls on offer at a tenner each. So, you’ve got no excuse, have you?
Mooi, man. Sien julle daar!
* Those contact details again… to book (essential for the R120 spitbraai option), call Jami on 082-897 2390 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Oh, and there’s no need for you to be picked up dronk-op-straat or dronk-op-plaas or dronk-op-jou-rug… a shuttle will operate from and to Stanford at R10 a ride. Visit Stanford Hills Estate to get the lay of the land.
Johannesburg. Jo’burg. Joeys. Jozi. Egoli. It’s all the same place.
South Africa’s biggest city. The city built on gold. The city that South Africans – well, those who don’t live in it – love to hate.
We generally don’t have a kind word for the concrete jungle that appears to be a shrine to money, crime, traffic jams, Gareth Cliff and a piss-poor rugby team. Confession. I was born there. At Mary Mount Hospital. While my parents lived at 55 Mars St. Truly alien. But, after just 18 months of life, I managed to persuade Mom and Dad to get the hell out and move to Pietermaritzburg. I’ve tried really hard to avoid going back ever since.
Check? You almost can't see the grossly ostentatious flaunting of wealth for the trees
The concrete jungle we call many names is actually, wait for it, the biggest man-made forest in the entire world. Yes. Hang on. No. I reckon birds had a big hand in helping to create the 10 million trees that green up Jo’burg today. But still, very surprising, hey?
And, just for good measure, the Awesome SA book also tells us that Jozi is the biggest city in the world not to be located beside a lake, a river or the ocean. Who knew that?
Some people are of the opinion that the only good crocodile is a monster croc that’s eaten a few Australians. And then survives the ensuing terrible tummy bug to chomp on a few more.
But I think that’s very unkind and would never condone such cruelty. Cruelty to animals is just not my bag. So I’m appalled to learn that a giant crocodile measuring a stunning 6.5m (that’s about 22 feet from snout to tip of tail) was murdered in cold blood in Manangoora, up in the remote Northern Territory of Australia, after a few locals reported that some distant cousins had become even more distant. As in not seen by anybody since “Croc-zilla” moved into the area.
Shame. Shame on the Aussie nation for wasting such a beautiful specimen. The late and great Steve Irwin must be writhing in his grave. At a missed opportunity to engage in some riverine WWF with a croc of this magnitude.
Let’s have a look at this beast…
Nice. A young Australian girl is taught the valuable life lesson that trucks are of far more value to Aussie society than its indigenous wildlife.
That there is one gorgeous crocodile, is it not? And one very dead one. It’s crime? To nibble on a few Outbackers and get so big that it was terrifying the life out of the livestock that Manangoora farmers use to make a living. So somebody killed it. Sis. It is clear that the technique of darting wild animals and moving them to a place of safety, employed almost on a worldwide basis, hasn’t yet reached Manangoora.
Outrageous. Manangoorans are clearly a bunch of wusses. If we happened across a stunning croc such as this one here in Stanford, we’d just ask Oom Jan to show it who’s boss by giving it a light smack on the ear, sufficiently hard to stun it for 20 minutes, stick it on the back of his Land Rover and plonk it in a nice enclosure on his farm.
And then turn our “Croc-zilla” into another on our ridiculously long list of tourist attractions. Ja, that’s just how we roll here in South Africa. We like to keep the “life” in “wildlife”.
* Dear Hatpeople, if you scroll up to your right on this page, you’ll see a big fat badge saying something about the 2010 South African Blog Awards. I’ve entered your “diagnosed SA-positive” blog into three categories: Best New Blog, Best Personal Blog and The Kulula Best Travel Blog. I wouldn’t be at all offended if you clicked on that there badge and nominated http://www.fredhatman.co.za in any of these categories (be sure to type in your e-mail address on the blog awards site for your nomination to be registered). In fact, were I to amaze all of us by winning something, the Birkenhead is on me – but not for Australians – down the Stanford Arms! Cheers!
If I loved Stanford before this weekend, I don’t have the words to describe how I feel about it now.
I had never been down the river. I’ve sat and stared at the reflections in it. I’ve swam in it. I’ve thrown the ball into it for the Scrapster and Doodlebug, my two delinquent Jack Russells. I’ve even created a rather amateurish artwork next to it. But I’d never taken a boat ride down the Klein Rivier.
Until Saturday. I hadn’t yet stumbled out of the Stanford Arms on Friday night (or was it Saturday morning?) when the SMS came though: “Weather permitting, see you on the river bank at bottom of King St at 10.30am. Cheers, Tim.”
Tim Hague. Photographer. Boat-builder. Chairman of Rotary Stanford. Top-notch bloke. And builder of a very nifty motorboat called “Three Summers” (it took him three summers in London to build it).
So we go for a ride on the river. And this how it looked…
We're off... and I've got no problem with the way things are going...
... and the view up front didn't look too untidy either...
Swing your gaze to the right, Hatpeople, and you'll see those holes in the rocks? Natural beehives. Serious. And people come to collect honey from them. How cool is that, hey?
I must interrupt this hi-tech slideshow to ask how we are all getting on here? Enjoying the ride? I thought so. What, you’re thirsty? Hang on, I’ll get the beers out of the cooler box. Whoop, don’t touch this! Just kidding. Here you go. Hold on, we’re about to hit the blue lagoon. If you’re lucky, you might spot Brooke Shields pretending to build a grass hut on the beach while not pretending to be buck-naked. OK. Whooosh!
Ah, that'll be the two original Marlboro men straining their eyes for a glimpse of Broo... I mean the lagoon...
And there she is! Brooke building her holiday home without municipal approval on the beach near Hermanus. What?! What do you mean you dropped your binocs in the river? All pix: Hatman
Fine. I think that all went rather well. I’m glad you enjoyed the ride as much as I did. The countryside, people. Not much wrong with it. You’ll be back behind your desks in the big, bad city this morning. It doesn’t have to be like that, you know. Make the change. And when you do, let me know and I’ll see if I can arrange a cosy little cabin on the lagoon for you.
* A wobbly-legged doff of the old hat to Tim Hague for making this all possible. Nice one, skipper!